China Trade Centre Tasmania Australia
Issued: 26/09/2008   
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When in Australia


Australians come from many different backgrounds and today it is a thriving multi-cultural society. Although the backgrounds of migrants are different they have many things in common and English is the common language. Australia is ranked number 1 in ease of starting a new business by the World Bank and Australians are the hardest workers in the world according to many recent studies. “Aussie” is an informal word for Australian.


  • Australians are very down to earth and always mindful of not giving the impression that they think they are better than anyone else.
  • They value authenticity, sincerity, and loathe pretentiousness.
  • Australians prefer people who are modest, humble, self- deprecating and with a sense of humour. 
  • They do not draw attention to their academic or other achievements and tend to distrust people who do.
  • They often downplay their own success, which may make them appear not to be achievement-oriented.


  • Australians place a high value on relationships.
  • With a relatively small population, it is important to get along with everyone, since you never know when your paths may cross again.
  • This leads to a win-win negotiating style, since having everyone come away with positive feelings helps facilitate future business dealings.

A multi-cultural society

  • The initial population of Australia was made up of Aborigines and people of British and Irish descent.
  • After World War II there was heavy migration from Europe, especially from Greece, Italy, Germany, the Netherlands, Yugoslavia, Lebanon, and Turkey.
  • This was in response to the Australian policy of proactively trying to attract immigrants to boost the population and work force.
  • In the last thirty years, Australia has liberalised its immigration policy and opened its borders to South East Asia.
  • This has caused a real shift in self-perception as Aussies begin to re-define themselves as a multi-cultural and multi-faith society rather than the old homogenous, white, Anglo- Saxon, Protestant nation.

Meeting etiquette

  • Australians are not very formal so greetings are casual and relaxed.
  • A handshake and smile suffices.
  • While an Australian may say, 'G'day' or 'G'day, mate', this may sound patronizing from a foreigner. Visitors should simply say, 'Hello' or 'Hello, how are you?'
  • Aussies prefer to use first names, even at the initial meeting.

Gift-giving etiquette

  • Small gifts are commonly exchanged with family members, close friends, and neighbours on birthdays and Christmas.
  • Trades people such as sanitation workers may be given a small amount of cash, or more likely, a bottle of wine or a six-pack of beer!
  • If invited to someone's home for dinner, it is polite to bring a box of chocolates or flowers to the hostess. A good quality bottle of wine is always appreciated.
  • Gifts are opened when received.

Dining etiquette

  • Many invitations to an Aussies home will be for a 'barbie' (BBQ).
  • Guests to a barbeque typically bring wine or beer for their personal consumption. In some cases, very informal barbecues may suggest that you bring your own meat! 
  • Arrive on time if invited to dinner; no more than 15 minutes late if invited to a barbeque or a large party.
  • Contact the hostess ahead of time to see if she would like you to bring a dish.
  • Offer to help the hostess with the preparation or clearing up after a meal is served.

  Watch your table manners!

  • Table manners are Continental -- hold the fork in the left hand and the knife in the right while eating.
  • Indicate you have finished eating by laying your knife and fork parallel on your plate with the handles facing to the right.
  • Keep your elbows off the table and your hands above the table when eating.
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